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Back Pain – Causes and Treatment of Lower and Upper back pain

Back pain is a common health problem experienced worldwide from various demographics and lifestyle backgrounds. Currently, professionals across many industries suffer from this problem. However, low back pain is most common among software professionals, mainly because of the nature of their work, fitness-related issues, and lifestyle.

Back pain can be caused by activity, injury and some medical problems. It can affect people of any age, for various reasons. With age, the chances of developing lower back pain raise, due to factors including previous job and degenerative disk disease. Studies say that almost 90% of back pains do not require surgery. They get better on their own. However, you must seek medical help if you experience back pain.

Causes of Back Pain

Our back consists of a complex structure of bones, muscles, disks, tendons, and ligaments that work in tandem to support our body and enable us to move around. While there are many reasons back pain is mainly caused by, in some cases the cause of the back pain remains unclear.

 Back pain is mainly caused by tension, disc surgery , strain or injury. In addition, our spine segments are cushioned with disks, cartilage-like pads. Problems with any of these components may cause back pain. Damage to the disk can result from medical conditions, strain including poor posture, among others. Problems with the spine such as osteoporosis can also lead to back pain.

Common back pain causes include:

Activities that can lead to strains or spasms include:

  • Lifting too heavy things
  • Lifting something improperly
  • Making a sudden and awkward movement
  • Structural Conditions

Structural Conditions: A number of structural conditions may cause back pain including:

  • Bulging disks: Our spine’s vertebra is cushioned by disks. If the disk bulges or ruptures there will be more pressure on a nerve.
  • Ruptured disks: Similar to bulging disks, a ruptured disk can result in more pressure on a nerve.
  • Sciatica: A shooting, sharp pain that travels through the buttock towards the back of your leg, which is caused by a herniated or bulging disk pressing on a nerve.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis may cause problems with the joints in the lower back, hips and other places. In a few cases, back pain can be due to spinal stenosis, narrowing of the space around the spinal cord tumor.
  • Kidney problems: Kidney infections, hemodialysis or stones in the kidney can cause back pain.
  • Movement and posture: A few everyday activities or poor posture may also lead to back pain. For example, bending too low or a much hunched sitting position while using computers may cause an increased shoulder or back pain over a period of time. Other examples include:
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Twisting
  • Over-stretching
  • Sitting or standing for a long time
  • Bending for a long time or bending awkwardly
  • Pulling, pushing, carrying or lifting something
  • Straining the neck forward (like while using a computer or driving)
  • Long driving without a break
  • Sleeping on a mattress that does not support our body and keep our spine straight

Other Back Pain Causes: Some medical conditions may also lead to back pain:

  • Shingles: Shingle is a viral infection of the nerve that causes painful skin rashes. Depending on the affected areas, such skin dieseases may lead to back pain.
  • Sleep disorders: People suffering from sleep disorders are more prone to experience insomnia, back pain, compared to others.
  • Infection of the spine: Spine infection can be due to a fever that may lead to back pain. Also, you can develop back pain owing to a tender, warm area on the back, which could be due to an infection of the spine.
  • Cancer of the spine: A cancerous tumor on the spine may press against the nerve, which may lead to back pain.
  • Cauda equina syndrome: This occurs when cauda equine, the bundle of nerves from the lower end of the spinal cord stimulation, is damaged. Symptoms may include a dull pain at the upper buttocks and in the lower back, including numbness in the thighs, genitalia, and buttocks. This condition may sometimes cause bladder and bowel disturbances.
  • Other infections: Kidney, bladder infections or pelvic inflammatory disease may also cause back pain.

Preventions for Back Pain

You can avoid back pain and can also prevent its recurrence by practicing proper body mechanics and improving your physical condition. You can keep your back healthy and strong by the following actions:

  • Exercise. Start and continue with low-impact aerobics (It should not strain on jolt your back). This can help increase endurance and strength of your back allowing your muscles to perform better. Swimming or walking are good options. Talk to your doctor on which activities you can target.
  • Enhance muscle strength and flexibility. You can start with abdominal and back muscle exercises that strengthen your core, help condition muscles so they can work together to strengthen your back. Your doctor or a physical therapist can tell you what exercises may work for you.
  • Manage and maintain a healthy weight: Being obese or overweight can strain the back muscles. If you are overweight, shedding those extra kilos can prevent back pain.

Most of the back pains are mechanical in origin, meaning repetitive stress to your back like awkward or static postures, prolonged sitting, bending forward, standing and carrying heavy loads are some of them that may lead to sprains to the lower back.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain may also be associated with the discs between the vertebrae, spinal cord and nerves, bony lumbar spine (lower spine), ligaments around discs and spine, lower back muscles, and the skin around the affected areas. In most cases, lower back pain gets better on its own in a couple of weeks. Painkillers and physiotherapy can help you manage the symptoms, mainly pain. Some people need surgery.

Upper Back Pain

The upper back pain can be due to spine inflammation, tumors in the chest and disorders of the aorta. Such pain mainly occurs due to poor posture for a long time or an injury that affects the thoracic spine’s sturdiness.


Either you suffer from back pain or not, avoid movements that may strain or twist your back. Use your body properly. Stand smart, sit smart, lift smart and keep your back straight. Also, change your position every half an hour to avoid or prevent recurrence of back pain.

For more information about Back pain related issues book an appointment with the Best Orthopedician in India.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the most common cause of back pain?

Some of the most common causes of back pain include the following:

  • Bad posture for a considerable time
  • Strained ligaments or muscles
  • Slipped disc
  • Back injury
  • Lifting heavyweights

2. How to diagnose back pain?

 If your doctor suspects that an underlying condition is causing back pain, he or she will likely recommend the following tests to diagnose:

  • X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Blood tests
  • Nerve studies

 3. What causes sudden back pain?

 The causes of sudden back pain include the following:

  • Compression fracture
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle spasm
  • Cancer in the spine
  • Herniated disk
  • Spinal injury
  • Spine curvatures
  • Spinal stenosis

 4. What can cause lower back pain in women?

 The main causes of lower back pain in women are:

  • Kidney issues
  • Slipped disc
  • Restricted vertebrae (lumbar)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Postural issues
  • Menstrual pain
  • Hormonal changes

 5. How do you know if back pain is muscle or disc?

 The pain originating in your muscle is different from the pain in your spinal area. The symptoms of spine-related pain will likely include radiating pain, electric pain, pain when moving, or even in a resting position. The symptoms of muscle-related pain are muscle tightness and pain at movement or rest.

Verified By Dr Sandeep Biswal
M.S. Orthopaedics, DNB (Diplomate of National Board) Orthopedics, F.C.P.S. (Orthopaedics), Diploma(Orthopaedics), MBBS, Senior Consultant -PAEDIATRICS, Apollo Hospitals, Bhubaneshwar
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